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PV analyser offers verification, troubleshooting tool

Posted: 23 Jul 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:photovoltaic  analyser  PV array  verification  troubleshooting 

 Solmetric PV Analyser

Solmetric Corp. rolls out PVA-600 analyser that measures current and power as a function of voltage for each PV module or string. Solmetric PV analyser offers a complete electrical test solution for verifying and troubleshooting photovoltaic (PV) array performance.

The measured I-V and P-V characteristics are compared to the performance predicted by advanced built-in models, and when predicted results match modelled results, system performance is verified. Any differences, on the other hand, can offer insights into potential performance issues such as excess series resistance, failing cells, or module mismatch. The PV analyser (PVA) is suited for system verification during installation and for troubleshooting performance problems.

Benefits of the PVA-600 include: increased confidence in system performance at start-up, identification of problems with equipment and interconnects, maintenance and performance logs, and guidance during troubleshooting.

Solmetric President Willard MacDonald explained, "The new PV analyser enables better installations and faster repairs by providing actual measurements where before there could only be guesses."

Measuring I-V, P-V For accurate predictions of I-V and P-V curves, irradiance and cell temperature must be known. The PVA-600 derives these values in several ways. Using an "array-as-sensor" mode, the PVA extracts the irradiance and cell temperature mathematically from the measured I-V data. This technique effectively uses the array itself as the sensors, so external sensors are not required. This method allows detailed comparison of the shapes of measured and predicted I-V curves, even under conditions of changing irradiance and temperature. Irradiance and cell temperature can also be measured and entered into the PVA either manually or automatically with an optional wireless sensor accessory kit.

The Solmetric PVA compares measured and modelled array performance. Several models are available, including a model from Sandia National Laboratories. To specify the system configuration, the user chooses the module and inverter type, the number of modules, and the array orientation. Strings up to 600V and 20A can be measured and compared to the model.

The PVA-600 includes a measurement unit, a wireless USB interface, and PVA software for Windows. A laptop or UMPC is required but not included. It is priced at Rs.1,21,181.75 ($2,595). A wireless sensor kit is available as an option for Rs.69,813.76 ($1,495). The PVA is available for sale in North America, and international versions are planned in 2H 10.

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